Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 11: Break Dance!

Welcome! Over the next many months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month eleven:


“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 11: Break Dance!
I don’t hear much about one of the major rules for novelists. SCHEDULE BREAK TIMES!

Yes, you DO need to schedule definite writing times. Once a week or three times a week or every day, whatever works for you. Maybe you write for an hour or three hours or eight. (Don’t burn yourself out, by the way!) Some of my writer friends give themselves a goal of words written rather than time spent writing. The important thing is to establish a definite writing schedule. Maybe a dentist appointment will intrude but definitely not laziness or the dreaded “I’d Rather Not” Syndrome. That’s a novel killer for sure.

However, writers do need breaks.

If you’re reading the “Writing the Third Dimension” posts as I write them, that means that we’re closing in on the December holiday season.

PC240246 (This is a photo of my daughter, granddaughter, and my mom!)

I usually don’t write the last two weeks of December. During the rest of the year, I also break for Sundays, vacation trips, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Thanksgiving weekend, and a few other odds and ends along the way, including a week between finishing one book and starting the next.  The important thing is that these are SCHEDULED  BREAKS. I’m not cheating on my writing time. Once you begin to cheat on your writing time, it’s very difficult to get back into a disciplined routine.

Novelists function like marathon runners. Sustained discipline is often the only difference between success and failure. For the novelist, failure doesn’t have anything to do with publication or lack thereof. Failure is failing to finish when you suspect the book you’re writing is good enough to merit completion. (And I’m assuming here that your life situation and your health remains stable.)

In honor of the holiday season, and with Lynn’s agreement, I’m taking a December break from “Writing the Third Dimension” and will dedicate most of my December time to preparing for the holidays: sewing dresses for my granddaughter’s dolls, baking, cleaning, practicing songs for Christmas performances, wrapping gifts, writing holiday cards, having a houseful of guests and, and, and…

Meanwhile to all of you, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you again on January 23rd. Holidays are fun but it’s always great to get back to writing!

What breaks do you schedule in your writing time?

Happy Writing and Many Blessings!


*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you come back January 23, 2014, for part 12.


4 responses to “Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 11: Break Dance!

  1. Have a wonderful December Sue, doing what you love to do. I look forwrad to your words of wisdom in the new year. Love the picture of the 3 generations!


  2. Great points. I’ll write on Saturdays for an hour, and Sunday for 1/2 an hour and an hour when we don’t have school (and maybe a 1/2 hour after school). 🙂 Have a happy December!


  3. Sounds like a great and challenging schedule, Erik! Happy Holidays to you and your family!


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